Dr. Drossman has changed my life and the way I live day to day. When I came to him many years ago, I was at the point of major gastro surgery. Over time with his knowledge, patience and skill we were able to get my terrible condition under control. I did have surgery, but not nearly as intrusive as it could have been. He is an amazing doctor and has taken my condition from unbearable to basically a non issue.
I cannot overstate how Dr. Drossman’s care and expertise in the field of functional pain has literally saved my life. I have seen a myriad of doctors throughout the years and have been in multiple pain centers around the country. I have been given over 40 different prescription medications throughout the years. And not one doctor has REALLY understood that I have been suffering with functional pain, which is very different than structural problems resulting in pain. Dr. Drossman and his team understand functional pain better than anyone else in the world. I followed his recommendations and medicinal therapy and now I am doing significantly better. I feel like I have my life back after all these years. I can finally play with the kids without suffering from significant pain.
It’s amazing how time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was a first year fellow working in your clinic every week. In the beginning, it was a bit overwhelming. Patients with advanced functional disorders may be the most challenging and complicated patients in gastroenterology. They push the limits of our medical knowledge and often there is overlap with psychiatric principles. Being that there is no test to prove the presence of these conditions, it can be hard for patients to understand what is going on. The doctor needs to have a good bedside manner to obtain the history and explain the diagnosis. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t know where to start with these patients. In the beginning, I didn’t know where to start with these patients. But with your help, I got there.
Now that I’m (finally) graduating, I just want you to know that working with you was one of the highlights of my 8 years of medical training. I learned a ton about bedside manner, dealing with difficult patients, using psychology as a tool to enhance treatment, explaining things that are difficult to explain, pharmacologic approaches for functional disorders… The list goes on. Being that nearly half of my patients going forward will have these conditions, these were invaluable tools to learn. I just want to say that I hope you know how much I’ve appreciated my experience and interactions with you.
Thanks again for being a positive influence and making a difference in my training.
William J. Bulsiewicz, MD MSCI
UNC Gastroenterology Fellowship Graduate
The Center for Digestive and Liver Health
William J. Bulsiewicz, MD MSCI
The Center for Digestive and Liver Health
“Dr. Drossman is the most attentive, caring and compassionate doctor I’ve ever encountered. As far as his knowledge and understanding of my digestive problems, my Mayo doctor said it all when he referred me to Dr. Drossman. He said Dr Drossman literally wrote the book on IBS and other functional GI problems, there is no one better than him.”
Renee, Florida Patient
“He makes it clear that YOU are in charge of your health care. It’s always a team effort. I had been in pain for so long, I didn’t think anyone could help me until I found Dr. Drossman.”
Erin, Maryland Patient
“You may not know just how grateful I am for how you helped me…but I had gotten to the point where I was afraid to leave my home…lest something totally socially unacceptable would happen. One or two visits to you later and I am living abroad, travel everywhere…even India…or remote jungle living in Cambodia and no worries. I do credit you with this transformation in my life.”
Sydney, Kuala Lumpur Patient
Dear Dr. Drossman, I want to thank you again for everything you have taught me. I am practicing malignant hematology and bone marrow transplant at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, which is an academic program. The most important philosophy which I learned from you and I carry in my practice: I know, I can’t cure all my patients, and, sometimes, I can’t even treat them, but, it is my first and foremost obligation to relieve their suffering and to make them feel better by the end of the visit, to give them the powerful knowledge of what it feels like to be pain (whether physical or mental) free. I can attest, that I achieve this therapeutic moment at almost 100% of the visits. I love my practice, and I am pretty sure that the patients are very satisfied. I will always remember how you brought relief to the patients just by sitting on their bed and talking to them, listening, and asking the right questions.
Every day I work on passing your approach to the medical students and residents. I want you to know that there are a lot of your “followers” whom you don’t even know about. Thank you – from my patients, my students, and myself.
As a GI fellow, it is truly a privilege to have had the opportunity to train with Dr. Drossman given his depth of knowledge, unique expertise, his eminence in the world of functional GI disorders, and his powerful insight. From working with him in clinic and in the inpatient setting, I’ve grown more comfortable with managing patients struggling with functional problems, using both communication tools and pharmacologic remedies. I have always appreciated Dr. Drossman’s approachability, his good-naturedness, and his enthusiasm for working with fellows.
Seth Crockett, MD
Fellow, UNC GI
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work for Dr. Doug Drossman. He was beyond an employer; he was my teacher and mentor. He imparted to me much of his invaluable wisdom about GI medicine, a biopsychosocial approach to patient care, and life in general. My future in medicine is enriched in large part because of his influence in my life.
Hollie Edwards, Former Research Assistant for Dr. Drossman
Medical Student, East Carolina University
Doug’s impact on medicine won’t be measured monetarily, but rather in patients helped and physicians trained. His worldwide work in the field echoes that of his mentor George Engel and provides a clear path for working with patients with difficult problems from a patient centered perspective. Doug has re-taught many physicians something that is often trained out of them in medical school – the art of being human. His patients and the practice of medicine will continue to benefit greatly from his work.
Stephan Weinland, PhD
Psychologist, Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg
Doug’s devotion to understanding patients beyond their physical symptoms has been inspiring. I am appreciative that I have had him as a mentor who has impressed upon me the importance of patience and compassion in dealing with patients, and I hope to continue to apply his teachings in my career.
Christina Wrennall, Research Assistant
I often wondered what in my interview with Dr. Douglas Drossman made me decide to take an extra year of training after completing my GI fellowship, instead of accepting one of several job offers I had. I did not know what exactly that would be, but I knew I was interviewed by a master. One year extended into two, but the gifts of Dr. Drossman’s mentorship and the influence he had on my professional and personal development are lifelong. I can make a long list of things I observed, lessons I learned and skills I developed but the gift of a true mentor goes beyond the coaching. True mentorship is about process not content. It is performance, not agenda oriented; it encourages reflection and self-learning rather than specific skill building. I soon realized that they are a gift from Doug to me – unbiased support and help in developing of my own ideas and abilities. I was learning not every day but every minute while observing Doug’s true dedication to patient care, superb time management and delegation skills, his ability to teach and inspire GI fellows and medical students, his endless curiosity and passion for research and his remarkable dedication to mentoring. Looking back, I now realize that learning advanced communication skills is undoubtedly the most valuable gift I received from Dr. Drossman. It changed the way I listen and talk to my patients forever and I believe it has made me a better physician and a person. Over my two years at the Center, Doug spent many, hours observing me interviewing patients and providing feedback. He would patiently listen to conversations I recorded with patients and suggest an alternative approach. I gradually built confidence in taking care of patients with complex and challenging chronic functional GI conditions. Though success is mainly a personal effort, behind most successful people there is a mentor- a special person who invests time and energy in developing the skills and growth of another person. I am forever grateful for having an exceptional mentor – Dr. Douglas Drossman. As I am now mentoring others, I often think of Doug. I am beginning to discover that being a mentor is almost as great of a gift as having one.
Albena Halpert, MD
Boston University Medical Center
At the opening reception of my first American Psychosomatic Society meeting in 1990, where I knew nobody and was trembling with shyness, Doug Drossman took me under his wing. I was a practicing internist with ideas of inventing for myself how to study the influences of stress on organic gastrointestinal disease, and Doug instantly became both a role model and a lifeline for my research. Over the years he was always ready to hear me out on what variable to choose or who to call where or how to handle a conflict between colleagues, and inevitably had something thoughtful, calming, and useful to say; Doug has a special gift for giving you advice while increasing your sense of autonomy. My research sort-of-career would have been unimaginable otherwise. I will never stop being grateful to him for drawing me into the APS and other organizations, for his invitations to write and speak and collaborate, for his friendship. And for introducing me to blackjack.
Susan Levenstein, MD
Aventino Medical Group, Rome, Italy
Doug has made major contributions to our understanding of how to help patients whose clinical problems are not easily diagnosed or managed with the endoscope or with other diagnostic or interventional techniques. In fact, his talent and influence in this area have been so profound that UNC students, residents, fellows and indeed faculty, see him as the person to go to when they need help.
M. Andrew Greganti, MD, Vice Chair, Medicine
UNC School of Medicine
Few academicians in medicine have had such an impact as Doug. His ability to teach and demonstrate patient interview skills and the physician-patient relationship are legendary and have educated physicians, residents and students all over the world. His studies of the bio-psycho-social impact and its role in functional gastrointestinal diseases represent landmark publications. The creation of the Rome Foundation and criteria has revolutionized the categorization, diagnosis and treatment of functional GI diseases. These are but a few of his accomplishments. Doug tells me that he considers me one of his mentors. I hope that is so, because I have been proud, and I might say, quick, to claim this role also so that I could also bask in his glory. However, I have reminded him that when he started the afterhours, problem patient conferences some 30 years ago (and I understand that they still go on today), I was one of the inaugural attendees. Doug taught me, his Division Director, how to interview and manage patients. I still employ what he taught me. So I salute him today, not as a mentor, but as a mentee.
Don Powell, MD, Former Chief of GI at UNC
During the summer of 2010 I had the pleasure of joining Dr Drossman in his clinic for a month. For me it was truly a “masters class” and an experience I would always cherish. Naturally before I came to NC I was aware of Dr Drossman’s work in the field of functional GI disorders but being able to participate in a “live performance” (and it is indeed a performance) was a profound experience for me both personally and professionally. The way he is implementing the “Biopsychosocial model theory” into the most complicated cases in the GI practice is truly the “art of medicine”. There is not a single day since that I am not using a fraction of what I have learned from him. I know that watching him at work made me a better care giver for my patients and for that I am very grateful. I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best in his future plans and encourage him to stay restless, productive and innovative as he has always been.
Roy Dekel, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
Ichilov Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
Doug has had an enormously positive influence on me in several ways. He has been a wonderful mentor who has always had my best interest in mind. Seeing patients with him in his clinic gave me a completely different perspective on taking care of patients. He taught me how to establish a positive, interactive relationship with patients, actively listen, empower patients, and to value patience. He also taught me that active listening can be very therapeutic for patients. Doug has guided me in working effectively in leadership positions on the Rome Board and Functional Brain-Gut Group. He always makes himself available and is happy to help others. Doug has been a wonderful role model for me. He is a leader and icon in the field of functional gastrointestinal disorders. I feel extremely fortunate to call Doug my mentor, colleague and good friend.
Lin Chang, MD
Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent a part of my tenure as a GI fellow under your training. The skills I have acquired under your tutelage are essential in managing complicated patients (not only with functional GI disorders) effectively. Perhaps, most important I have learned more about myself as a physican. I will miss our weekly interactions and discussions on a wide variety of topics. For the fellows, you were an exceptional teacher and true friend. Good luck with your future endeavors. As long as there is a GI fellowship program at UNC, your work and the “Drossman” name will live on!
Shehzad Sheikh, MD, PhD Fellow
University of North Carolina GI
Working with Doug has been an amazing eye-opening experience, and one quickly realizes why he is one of the gurus of FGID. It has changed the way how I approach my patients and shaped my subspeciality practice. I am privileged to have journeyed with him as a mentor, a collaborator and a friend.
Reuben Wong, MD
National University Hospital, Singapore
His personable and engaging teaching style, expertise, and generosity of time and mentorship contributed to making Dr. Drossman’s visit to Pittsburgh extremely useful. His offer for ongoing mentorship in clinical, research, and educational missions is priceless.
Eva Szigethy, MD
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Doug, it was 1992 when our paths first crossed at DDW in San Francisco. Your concern for the patient population that IFFGD represented and willingness to believe in what we hoped to accomplish has remained for nearly twenty years. We have come a long way together. We have been through ups and downs and continue to persist in our efforts to make life better for patients. Your commitment has been immeasurable. Your contributions to the field have changed the lives of patients throughout the world. We are grateful for the day we met. We wish only the best to you, Debbie and your family as you continue with your life work.
Nancy and Bill Norton
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)
Doug Drossman is truly one of a kind!.
I have worked with Doug for over ten years on several AGA related educational activities both domestic and international in nature. With every activity he brings a unique perspective and a high level of creativity to the table. He can conceptualize an abstract idea and bring it to life and in doing so he enhances the educational experience for the learner.
He is passionate about helping medical specialists of all sorts be better communicators when talking with their patients. And he practices what he preaches. Whether it be through video vignettes, roll playing or group exercises, each are designed to help uncover communication challenges as well as communication strengths. And then Doug provides practical, understandable and most importantly actionable advice to help bridge the communication gap between the doctor and the patient. It works!
I have watched this experience firsthand at a two day communications workshop he created for AGA. It was intense, it was revealing and it was most of all helpful. The feedback from attendees was off the chart! A testament to his positive, upbeat and novel approach to teaching and facilitating. He is an educator who makes a difference.
Senior VP of American Gastroenterological Association
Hello Dr. Drossman,
I enjoyed the patient testimonial and am not at all surprised by your compassionate treatment of functional disorders. I somewhat specialize in IBS and functional dyspepsia and use your May 2016 Gastroenterology collection of articles to explain the brain-gut link and dualism versus holism. I tell patients that you are the most brilliant, empathic physician that I know. Thank you for all of your wisdom over the years. It is so rewarding for both me and the patient when they are given insight into their situation and no longer feel neglected by the endoscopists in our profession.
David Schwartz, MD, FACG, AGAF Vermont Gastroenterology